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Polly wants a mulligan | Marcel Strigberger

Friday, July 30, 2021 @ 2:34 PM | By Marcel Strigberger

Marcel Strigberger %>
Marcel Strigberger
Which of these phrases grabs your attention more? “No glucosamine sulphate here” or “This is a dead parrot.” 

I thought so.

B.C. Justice Ward Branch recently made extensive reference to the iconic Monty Python dead parrot sketch in certifying a class action application by a plaintiff who claimed there was no glucosamine sulphate in the glucosamine sulphate product people were buying (Krishnan v. Jamieson Laboratories Inc. [2021] B.C.J. No. 1606). 

His Honour noted, “To invoke the opening comedic extract, Health Canada’s testing protocols cannot change a dead parrot into a live one.” And “Health Canada cannot establish a protocol that requires that a parrot only still have its feathers in order to be sold as a live parrot, and thereby prevent anyone from suing after being sold a parrot who joined the bleedin’ choir invisible.”

However for some inexplicable reasons Justice Branch went on to excise the sketch’s reference, removing same from the decision posted on the website. In other words, the parrot reference was killed. It is no more. Branch took the parrot off the branch. 

My question is why did the judge edit the ruling, deleting that plumage? I have a few thoughts.

I can visualize him losing sleep ruminating, “What have I done? I’ll come across like Seinfeld. By discussing no glucosamine sulphate they’ll all think I rendered a decision about nothing.”

Or “Maybe people will think that the parrot stuff makes me look flippant and not serious. I had better excise it. And while I’m at it first thing tomorrow morning for good measure I’ll rush over to my office and also toss out that rubber chicken.”

Contrariwise, as Humpty Dumpty would say, just maybe referring to parrots is too serious. Who knows how many folks are brought to tears when they hear the phrase, “Polly wants a cracker?” Especially in the midst of COVID-19 stresses, the last thing you may want to hear about is parrot problems.

Or perhaps Justice Branch may have been concerned about how some people might react on social media. I can easily see some disgruntled reader tweeting, “Judge relies on Monty Python for judgment. B.C. justice is the wild west, lawless, a joke. I’m moving to Quebec.”

Interestingly there were numerous comments about this matter, virtually all being against the edit. One reader noted, “Everyone is so afraid of a social media mob coming for them now that they self-censor even the most innocuous stuff like this.”

Iconic leaders such as Churchill, Kennedy and Lincoln had no problems using humour in the most trying times. Lincoln noted, “With the fearful strain that is on me night and day, if I did not laugh, I should die.”

And Lincoln was a big man.

And let’s not forget Stephen Leacock’s wise take on humour, in Humor As I See It: “The world’s humor, in its best and greatest sense, is perhaps the highest product of our civilization.”

Which all gets back to Monty Python’s John Cleese who actually noted a caveat about the use of humour: “Humour is not a panacea for all the world’s problems. When you charge the enemy machine-gun post, don’t waste energy trying to see the funny side of it.”

We all agree with this wisdom. But doing a ruling about glucosamine sulphate is not exactly like charging at a machine-gun post. A machine-gun post actually contains machine guns.

 As another commenter noted, “Humour in a ruling does not make it any less of a ruling but it does show humanity. Now the written ruling will be accurate and sterile. This was a needless bit of meddling that did not make the world any better.”

I have not read the edited ruling minus the parrot. I suppose it now reads something like, “Just because Health Canada says glucosamine sulphate is in the bottle, doesn’t mean it’s in there. Full stop.

Maybe that’s exactly the reason why I (and others) have not read it.

Hasn’t COVID-19 taught us a few lessons such as it’s OK for the justice system, which has spun into loops the past 16 months, to lighten up a bit? 
Marcel Strigberger retired from his Greater Toronto Area litigation practice and continues the more serious business of humorous author and speaker. His just launched book is Boomers, Zoomers, and Other Oomers: A Boomer-biased Irreverent Perspective on Aging, now available on Amazon, (e-book) and paper version by pre-release sale order. Visit Follow him @MarcelsHumour.

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